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Correa seeks French knowhow in strategic pact

media French President François Hollande with Rafael Correa on Thursday Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa ended an official visit to France on Friday after siging a "strategic pact" that he hopes will allow his country to learn from French technical know-how. Correa, who also visited Russia and Belarus, said that Britain is violating Julian Assange's human rights by forcing him to take refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

"The influence of French culture is present in Ecuador and the whole world," Correa told RFI during his French visit. "But we could do even better."

He met French President François Hollande on Thursday.

In signing agreements on science, technology and higher education, Ecuador hopes to learn from French knowhow, he said.

"It might seem strange because usually people want to sign trade agreements," he pointed out. "But for us cooperation is most important. That's what the most advanced countries can offer us in the fields of science and technology to prepare the human talents of our country because we are convinced that that's the key to development."

In an interview with the AFP news agency Correa accused the United Kingdom of violating Wikileaks founder Assange's human rights by keeping him holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy for fear of prosecution and possible extradition.

"The matter is in Great Britain's hands," he said. "If it wants to have him there for 30 years, he'll stay there 30 years. But that's a violation of human rights."

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